Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air

So, first, I have to share with y'all a wonderful gift I received this week!  Katie, a Muffin Top reader, surprised me by painting Sugar from the picture I'd posted of her.  Is that not adorable?!?  It was an incredibly sweet gesture and I absolutely love it!  Y'all will have to go check out her writing and artwork.  You can do that by clicking here  She's very talented! 

Thanks again, Katie, for such a thoughtful gift!  (I'd paint you something but, well, you wouldn't want me to do that.) 
Yesterday, I had to go to the grocery store.  I had a long list.  It wasn't going to be one of those in and out trips.  No, this was going to be some major shopping.  One of those where you need to find something with which to brace yourself at the register.   

I got in the store and, on about the second aisle, I heard a child screaming.  Really loudly.  Not a "I'm hurting" scream but a "I'm throwing a fit" scream "and I won't be done anytime soon."  I thought, "well, this is just great."  I couldn't see the screamer anywhere but, no matter where you were in the store, he could be heard. 

Y'all know how it is.  You're in a restaurant or a store and a kid is making your experience just miserable.  And, yesterday, I guess the hormonal planets were aligned in such a way that I was feeling a little low on patience and completely dry on longsuffering.   

Well, I'd had time to make my way from the dairy case all the way to the canned soup aisle.....which is a far piece in grocery store miles.......and he was still going strong.  Oh, I was so irritated!  It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.  "Why doesn't the mother do something?" I thought.  I wanted to start screaming, myself. 

I was looking for what I needed and I heard the screams getting closer.  I turned to see who this little, annoying offender was and I saw a mother with three little boys in her cart.  They looked like they were 5, 3, and 2.  The 3 year old was the screamer and I noticed the big brother wasn't doing anything to help the situation.  The mother looked as if she were trying to implement the "ignore" parenting tactic which, clearly, wasn't showing any results yet. 

I just thought I was frazzled.  Well, she really looked frazzled.  I heard her mumble to herself, "I should have known better than to try this."  I became way more sympathetic when I actually saw her and her band of unhappy shoppers.  I smiled at her sympathetically, feeling guilty for the things I'd been thinking all the way from the cheddar cheese to the cream of mushroom.   

I kept noticing another lady as I shopped.  You know how you get on track with people at the store and you continually pass them on every single aisle?  Well, there was a lady in her 30's, I'd say, and she had her grocery list and was busily looking for things, too.  As she pushed her cart with one hand, she pulled her mother's wheelchair behind her with the other.  I assumed it was her mother because they favored and the ages looked to be right.  Anyway, she was quite good at this maneuver so you could tell it wasn't her first rodeo. 

Now, let me make sure you understand.....I'm not talking about a nice, new wheelchair.  I'm talking about one without a footrest and a make-do seat cushion fashioned from a folded blanket.  The mother held her feet up as they made their way through the store.  They talked as they shopped and seemed to be very close.

She asked me where she could find the bread crumbs and I directed her towards them.  I don't like to brag but one of my biggest strengths is my ability to navigate a grocery store.  Anyway, she and her mother were so friendly and we all had a nice, little chit chat. 

She had some juice drinks and a couple of huge bags of kid cereal in her buggy.  You know those enormous bags that could be mistaken for a bag of triple 13 fertilizer?  So, I guessed that she had kids at home and was obviously responsible for her ailing mother, too.   

We got to the checkout and the mother/daughter duo was checking out in the line next to me.  A man behind them offered his assistance as the small framed woman tried to get all of her groceries and her mother situated.  She smiled and politely refused any help.  She had it under control.  She pushed those bagged groceries with one hand and pulled her mother with the other like it came as natural as breathing. 

Yesterday, I received a business thank you note.  It was sent by a company from which we do some of our buying for the stores.  The front of the card doubled as a sticker that could be peeled off and used.  Very clever idea.  It was one of the most beautiful sayings and I'd never heard it before. 
While I was in the store, I thought back to that sticker.  We all have something that sits heavy on our chests.  It certainly doesn't have to be anything bad or tragic to feel like an elephant at times.  A buggy full of boys and a loving mother certainly aren't burdens.  But, sometimes, even our blessings can pull on us.  We wouldn't have life any other way but there are moments when we just feel like we can't catch our breath. 

There are other things that we carry which are tragic or definitely not viewed as blessings and, well, those take our breath away in a whole different way.  Somethings punch us in the gut and knock the wind out of us and we feel like we just might die.  Other things may have been hanging over our heads for years......always there....and, even though we've prayed for them to be lifted, we've grown tired of holding our breath. 

Good or bad, we all have those moments or responsibilities or seasons or burdens in our lives which weigh on us.  Those things that, some days, make it difficult to breathe. 

On my way out of the grocery store, I passed a man on oxygen and an older lady with her daughter who seemed to have significant mental disabilities.  In the distance, I could still hear the little screamer making his music.  I thought to myself how we're all just going through life doing the best we can with the days that come our way.  None of us are immune to spells of breathlessness. 

I know, sometimes, I get too busy to see that people around me are struggling.

Oh, life is brimming with joys, but there are sighs, too.

Wouldn't this world be a better place if I helped more people to breathe a little easier?

"Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."  Philippians 2:4

Y'all have a good Thursday!  The weekend is coming! 




  1. I really needed this post today! What a great perspective.

  2. I agree with April, understanding and empathy, in another person's shoes.
    Sugar is so adorably cute in the painting, so sweet of Katie:)
    Have a beautiful day Joni,
    Kathleen in Az

  3. I love this perspective Joni. Thank you for your wonderful way with words and important perspective!

    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Becky. I appreciate you reading my little blog :)